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economic justice

An open question regarding social and economic justice

An open question from a curious man - what does "social justice" mean? What does it require? Who owes it, and who is owed?
of noble, selfless activist. Hardly. I am a Harvard-trained corporate lawyer. I am 29, and last year, I made $480,000 in pre-tax income. Various other ventures and investments netted me an additional $400,000. These numbers have been rising since I got my first legal job at the age of 25. I see no reason why they won't rise another 15% for 2006. I don't like it, but I wear a suit to work. I represent any client referred to me by my firm's management. In fact, I even solicit corporate clients in my spare time. To be frank, I don't particularly care WHO these corporations are (and make no mistake, a corporation is a legal person in most countries), nor do I care WHY they want my legal representation. I only care about their ability to pay.

In the last election, I voted for George Bush, because I felt that his tax policies would benefit me more than those of his challenger. I did feel some guilt over this, since I oppose the Iraq war and his disrespect for the environment, but I didn't see how either of these things would really be different with him out of office. Better the devil you know, than the one you don't.

I have a girlfriend but no children, and no plans for children. My girlfriend is the daughter of a wealthy land developer from the Philippines. She receives a stipend from her father every month, of about $30,000. As you can imagine, our standard of living is quite high. Starting last year, I even got one month of paid vacation time from my firm, permitting us to travel the world at our leisure. Few things are beyond our reach. In December, I rented a suite in one of the poshest districts of Paris, for an entire week, at the cost of $8,000 per night. This was well within our budget.

Now, the open question - I have succeeded in life. What are my social "obligations," if any, to the world. What would I have to do to live a life consistent with "social justice?" I am honestly curious. This is not something I have thought about very hard.

I was not born into wealth or privilege. I grew up with a single mother, immigrant from Nicaragua, below the poverty line. That experience did not endear me to the people in my neighborhood. Many of them were theives, dishonest, violent, drunkards, gang members, criminals. The type of people who flit between poverty and prison, back and forth, never going anywhere.

But I was smarter. I always scored well on standardized tests. My college was funded by scholarships. And of course, when a poor boy like myself gets a taste of that elite world, the world of the wealthy and educated, the natural instinct is to join up. The natural instinct is to make enough money to pull my family out of the slums. I accomplished this goal years ago; and in many ways, this is probably the most important act of social justice I have ever participated in.

But what comes next? Do I owe anything to the same people who tried to hold me down, from my old neighborhood? Or do they owe me? What does "social justice" mean, anyway? Do I "deserve" the money I make? The life that I have? Does anyone?

These are all open questions. I leave them to you.

What ever is in your heart, is what will play out... 29.Jan.2006 20:59

Pravda or Consequences

Simply put more back into the system than you took out. It's the miracle of compound interest.

My two cents... 30.Jan.2006 18:53

Madam Hatter

Do you deserve the money you make? Yes, in the sense that you appear to have worked hard for it, to some degree. No, in the sense that it's not fair that others that work as hard or harder will never hope to make that much. But that's not your fault.

I'd say that to be socially responsible you should rethink your politics. It's not socially responsible, in my opinion, to vote according to your own best interests exclusively. Sure, Bush's tax cutting policies help you out. But what are they doing to millions of others? If you care about the environment and the war, why not put some of your money, if not your time, toward fighting for these issues? It's not socially responsible to just sit back and say "there's nothing I can do".

Last, I'd caution against being too smug or self-righteous. Yes, you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps. You were smart, did the "right" things, played by the rules, and it worked for you. But, you must know a few of those from the old neighborhood who tried and - for whatever reason - did not succeed. Timing and luck play a factor in everyone's lives, too. Everyone's not given the same skills, IQ, opportunities, etc. - don't be too quick to judge.

oohlala 30.Jan.2006 20:48


I got a fine chortle from this parody of over indulgence..i believe the satisfied ego is a warm up for a lengthy visit with the karma from below-hell.